Susan Castillo


Susan Castillo

Infobox_Politician
name = Susan Castillo


width = 200px
height = 284px
caption = "Photo courtesy Oregon Department of Education"
birth_date = August 14, 1951
birth_place = Los Angeles, CA
residence = Eugene, OR
death_date =
death_place =
office = Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction
term_start = January 6, 2003
term_end = (2011)1
predecessor = Stan Bunn
successor = Incumbent
constituency =
office2 = Oregon State Senate
term_start2 = 1997
term_end2 = 1992
predecessor2 =
successor2 =
constituency2 =
office3 =
term_start3 =
term_end3 =
predecessor3 =
successor3 =
constituency3 =
party = Democrat2
religion =
occupation = Broadcast Journalist
majority =
relations =
spouse = Paul Machu
civil partner =
children =
website =
footnotes = 1Reelected in 2006 to a second 4-year term.
2Superintendency is a non-partisan office.

Susan Castillo (born August 14 1951) heads the Oregon Department of Education as the Superintendent of Public Instruction.cite web | title = Superintendent's Biography | work = Oregon Department of Education official website | publisher = ODE | date = 2006 | url = http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/bio.aspx | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05 ] Although she currently holds an elective statewide non-partisan office, she is a Democrat, and served from 1997 to 2003 in the Oregon State Senate as a member of that party. Before entering politics, she had pursued a career in broadcast journalism, first for Oregon Public Broadcasting, and later for KVAL-TV in Eugene, Oregon.cite web| title = Susan Castillo | work = Official 1998 General Election Online Voters' Guide | publisher = Oregon Secretary of State | date = 1998 | url = http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/nov398/guide/senst/castis.htm | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-04]

Life before politics

A third-generation hispanic American,cite web | title = Superintendent's Biography | work = Oregon Department of Education official website | publisher = ODE | date = 2006 | url = http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/bio.aspx | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-04 ] Castillo was born in Los Angeles, and raised there by her mother, who had not finished eighth grade. She cites watching her mother's struggles as a source of her understanding of the importance education. "Growing up and seeing your parent experience that," she told "Northwest Education" in a 2006 interview, "you really do make that connection between education and opportunity."cite web | title = A Hispanic Perspective: Oregon School Superintendent Susan Castillo | work = Northwest Education
publisher = Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory | date = Spring, 2005 | url = http://www.nwrel.org/nwedu/11-03/qanda/
format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05
]

By the mid-1970s, Castillo was working as a secretary in the Affirmative Action Office of Oregon State University (OSU) for its director, Pearl Gray. Gray urged her to consider pursuing a college degree, which she did, graduating OSU in 1981 with a BA in communications.cite news | last = Hogue | first = Theresa | title = Castillo returns to her roots | work = Corvallis Gazette-Times | pages = (Online edition) | language = | publisher = Lee enterprises | date = November 13, 2006 | url = http://www.gtconnect.com/articles/2006/11/14/news/community/6loc01_castillo.txt | accessdate = 2006-12-05]

In 1982, began an award-winningcite web | title = Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo | work = Oregon Blue Book (Online) | publisher = Oregon Secretary of State | date = 2006
url = http://bluebook.state.or.us/state/executive/Education_Dept/superintendent_bio.htm | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05
] broadcast journalism career, joining the reporting team at Oregon Public Radio, and became a reporter for KVAL-TV in 1982.cite web | title = Current Officials: Susan Castillo (OR) | work = Project Vote Smart | date = 2006 | url = http://www.vote-smart.org/bio.php?can_id=BS075004 | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05] As a journalist, she was frequently called upon to cover or comment on Oregon government and politics.cite news | last = Carter | first = Steven | title = School activist takes on state superintendent | work = The Oregonian | pages = E1 | date = May 2, 2006]

Legislative career

Castillo was the first hispanic woman be seated in the Oregon Legislative Assembly, and would later become the first to gain election to a statewide office.cite web | title = Superintendent's Biography | work = Oregon Department of Education official website | publisher = ODE | date = 2006 | url = http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/bio.aspx | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05 ]

She was first appointed by the Lane County commissioners to fill a vacancy in the Oregon State Senate in 1996, winning re-election in 1998. She became vice-chair of the Education Committee, dealing with such issues as charter schools, teacher tenure and school reform,cite news | last = Carter | first = Steven | title = School activist takes on state superintendent | work = The Oregonian | pages = E1 | date = May 2, 2006] and was selected an Assistant Democratic Leader for the 1999 and 2001 legislative sessions. During her tenure as a State Senator, she worked to bolster funding for public schools, foster innovation in school programs, and remove barriers to achievement.cite web | title = Superintendent's Biography | work = Oregon Department of Education official website | publisher = ODE | date = 2006 | url = http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/bio.aspx | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05 ]

In 2001, she gained national press attention when she and State Senator Margaret Carter (D-Portland) filed suit in U.S. District Court to force the Census Bureau to disclose its adjusted statistical count, which they suspected would reveal an undercount of as many as 43,000 Oregonians. They further estimated the cost to the State of Oregon in lost federal funding for social and educational programs over ten years at US$16 million. cite news | last = Loving | first = Lisa | title = Senators Hope for Lawsuit Victory: A federal judge will likely support the case of two Oregon lawmakers | work = The Skanner | pages = A1 | date = Oct 24, 2001] Judge James A. Redden ruled in favor of the disclosure, and the decision was upheld in 2002 on appeal by the Census Bureau.cite web | last = Jones | first = Larry | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Court Orders Census Bureau to Release Adjusted Census Data | work = U.S. Conference of Mayors (official website) | date = October 21, 2002 | url = http://www.mayors.org/uscm/us_mayor_newspaper/documents/10_21_02/census.asp | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05] cite web | last = Rodríguez Cadavid | first = Fresia | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Feds Won’t Fight Ruling to Release 2000 Undercount | work = HispanicLink | publisher = | date = 2003 | url = http://www.hispaniclink.org/weeklyreport/archives/2048/2048_cadavid3.htm | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05]

Tenure as State Superintendent of Schools

Castillo was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, a nonpartisan position, in the May, 2002, Oregon primary election. She ran against the incumbent, Stan Bunn, a Republican whose administration had been marred by an ethics scandal, and Rob Kremer, a longtime charter school proponent. She received a majority of votes in the May primary, avoiding a runoff in the November general election.cite news | last = Carter | first = Steven | title = School activist takes on state superintendent | work = The Oregonian | pages = E1 | date = May 2, 2006]

She was sworn into office on January 6, 2003 to a four-year term to oversee a State Education Department serving more than a half million students in over 1,200 public schools at a time when Oregon had experienced the worst budget shortfalls since World War II.cite web | title = Superintendent's Biography | work = Oregon Department of Education official website | publisher = ODE | date = 2006 | url = http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/bio.aspx | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05 ] She also faced turmoil within the agency, demoralized by her predecessor's alleged mismanagement and ethics violations, prompting a group of department employees to present the newly elected superintendent with a petition of grievances in a surprise public confrontation less than three weeks after taking office.cite web
title = Members march to schedule meeting | work = SEIU Local 503 (official website) | publisher = Local 503, State Employees' International Union | date = 2003 | url = http://www.seiu503.org/onthejob/actions/doeaction.cfm | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05
]

Oregon's school funding problems were sufficiently dire that Portland teachers agreed to working ten days without pay, and serious consideration was given to reducing the school year by nearly a full month. The situation received national attention, due in no small part to a series of "Doonesbury" cartoon strips lampooning the situation. "Oregon is the poster child of what is going on in the states because of declining revenues," Jan Chambers of the Oregon Education Association is quoted as saying, continuing, "It's ghastly here."cite web | last = Prah | first = Pamela M. | authorlink = | coauthors = Jason White
title = Education Feels States Financial Squeeze | work = Stateline.org
publisher = Pew Research Center | date = March 26, 2003 | url = http://www.stateline.org/live/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=136&languageId=1&contentId=15199 | format = HTML | doi =
accessdate = 2006-12-05
]

Administration

In a position which has little control over school policies and curricula, which largely remain the province of local school districts, nor school funding, which is solely dependent upon local levies and state support levels set by the legislature,cite news | title = Why have this position? | work = The Register-Guard | pages = 2B | date = August 28, 2005] Castillo quickly focused her attention on six priorities for her administration::* increasing education system accountability;:* closing the gaps in achievement for low income and minority students;:* raising literacy levels at all grades;:* improving middle and high Schools;:* creating community schools; and:* enhancing Department of Education efficiency.cite web | title = Superintendent's Biography | work = Oregon Department of Education official website | publisher = ODE | date = 2006 | url = http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/bio.aspx | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05 ]

A key to Castillo's promotion of effective teaching practices has been to showcase schools that have made big gains and facilitating their sharing effective strategies through department sponsored workshops and presentations.cite news | last = Carter | first = Steven | title = School activist takes on state superintendent | work = The Oregonian | pages = E1 | date = May 2, 2006]

Concurrently, Castillo restructured the Oregon Department of Education around three core functions: accountability; leadership; and school improvement.cite web | title = Superintendent's Biography | work = Oregon Department of Education official website | publisher = ODE | date = 2006 | url = http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/bio.aspx | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05 ]

Castillo claims schools have improved during her term of office, despite severe budget constraints which predate her election to the post, and test scores do show modest increases since she took office, and stronger gains in closing the so-called "achievement gap." She states that her biggest disappointment in office was not being able to persuade lawmakers to put more money into education.cite news | last = Carter | first = Steven | title = School activist takes on state superintendent | work = The Oregonian | pages = E1 | date = May 2, 2006] Perhaps in evidence of this frustration, and despite the fact that they are members of the same party, she has not shied away from criticizing Governor Ted Kulongoski over what she has seen as inadequate funding for education in his proposed budgets.cite news | title = School advocates criticize budget proposal | work = Portland Business Journal (online edition) | language = | publisher = | date = December 1, 2004 | url = http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/stories/2004/11/29/daily27.html | accessdate = 2006-12-05]

Through most of her first term as Superintendent, Castillo attempted to bolster the effectiveness of the Mastery Certificate programs, part of earlier educational reforms of her predecessor, Norma Paulus, which hadfailed to live up to expectations. After watching limited resources being consumed in administration of the programs, she proposed in 2006 that they be phased out in favor of higher standards for high school graduation.cite news | title = One step closer to CIM sense | work = Bend Bulletin | language = | publisher = | date = December 1, 2004 | url = | pages=OP01] Castillo's advocacy led to the State Board of Education's adoption of the Oregon Diploma, a redesign of Oregon's graduation standards, and the elimination of the CIM/CAM system.

Controversies

Castillo's administration of the Department of Education has not been without controversy. In November, 2001, the state Attorney General's office notified the education department a new state law prohibited providing funds for "transition services" for youthful offenders leaving jail. In addition to the new legislation restricting funding to classroom instruction, questions were raised over contracts being awarded without bid, and other financial irregularities. Education department spokesmen responded that the mismanagement issues were due to inadequate management practices of the previous administration which were being addressed under Castillo's leadership, and that the decision to continue the funding was within the discretion of the Superintendent, who was not bound by the notification from the Attorney General's office.cite news | last = Hammond | first = Betsy | coauthors = Richard Cockle | title = Education expenditure is matter of opinion | work = The Oregonian | pages = B1 | date = September 25, 2004]

More recently, she has been criticized by parents groups and the press for certifying a 2006 Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) reclassification and redistricting plan based solely on school size. The plan requires lengthy and costly trips by athletes to compete against distant schools, often involving lost instruction time. She has defended the action as required under existing state law. The matter is in the courts, several districts having filed suit.cite news | last = Freeman | first = Joe | title = News & Notes: OSAA appeal progressing | work = The Oregonian | pages = D4 | date = March 7, 2006]

2006 Re-election

In December, 2005, Castillo announced she would run for a second term amidst widespread speculation she was considering a Gubernatorial or Congressional bid.cite news | last = Silverman (AP) | first = Julia | title = In low-key race, Susan Castillo looks to keep schools job | work = KATU.com | publisher = KATU-TV | date = May 5, 2006 (updated August 20, 2006) | url = http://www.katu.com/news/education/3620711.html | accessdate = 2006-12-05] She was challenged by Deb Andrews, an Oak Grove education consultant, who said Oregon schools fail to match curriculum to individual students. She was also critical of reading instruction in most Oregon schools, which she proposed should employ phonics-based reading programs and Direct Instruction, a highly scripted teaching method used in a handful of Oregon schools.cite news | last = Carter | first = Steven | title = School activist takes on state superintendent | work = The Oregonian | pages = E1 | date = May 2, 2006] Castillo, with the backing of the Oregon Education Association, received 67% of the votes cast, gaining election to a second four-year term beginning in January 2007.cite web | last = Bradbury | first = Bill | title = May 16, 2006, Primary Election Abstract of Votes: Superintendent of Public Instruction | publisher = Oregon Secretary of State | date = 2006 | url = http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/may162006/results/spi.pdf | format = PDF | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-05]

Distinctions and awards

*2004 - Named one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics” in America, Hispanic Business Magazine.cite web | title = 2007 ISSA Conference Featured Speakers | work = ISSA | publisher = University of Denver | date = 2006 | url = http://www.du.edu/issa/2007Speakers.html | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-04]

Trivia

* While still a broadcast journalist, Castillo appeared in the 1993 film, "Fire in the Sky" playing a TV news anchor.cite web
title = Fire in the Sky | work = IMdb | publisher = Internet Movie Database | date = 2006 | url = http://imdb.com/title/tt0106912/fullcredits | format = HTML | doi = | accessdate = 2006-12-04
]

References


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